Do you organize your iPod playlists by artist (the Rolling Stones or U2) or by style (country or classical)?
To change your mood and even improve your mental health, try arranging your songs differently, says Joseph Cardillo, co-author of Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.
He keeps eight playlists — for pep-up tunes, for relaxing tunes, for driving-to-work tunes, and for workout tunes (different ones for different sports), he says. "For me, they're not interchangeable." The "207-beats-per-minute" "Rock This Town" by the Stray Cats, for example, energizes him but is not an ideal before-bed song, he says. "For coming down, I like Enya, 'Caribbean Blue.'"
If eight playlists sounds like a bit much, shoot for two – "one to bring you up and one to calm you down," he says.
You can even give a playlist to a relative as a gift. Cardillo just finished making one for his father, who is in his 80s. "We said, 'Pick out the 10 favorite songs from when you were a teenager,'" he says.
Even better, also ask your mom or dad to pick out "meaningful photographs that are emotional in a positive way" – and then can create a slide show set to the playlist. "It will spark emotions," he says. "It will spark memory as well."
Train your brain
Music can help you "train your brain," just as exercise trains your muscles, says psychiatrist Galina Mindlin, also a co-author of Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.
Apparently the musician Sting believes she is correct. The book cover features a blurb from him: "Your Playlist shows you how to use your favorite songs to enhance your overall mental and physical performance. This book provides an easy and effective way to bring positive change into your everyday life."
"This is what he does with his art every day," says Mindlin, who uses his tunes herself. "For relaxing, I use 'Every Breath You Take' or 'Shape of My Heart.'"
How can you use the music on your iPod to improve your life? "We can trick your mind into a different mindset," says Mindlin, who runs a brain music therapy center in New York City. If you had a stressful day or stressful conversation, you can listen to your relaxing playlist and, she says, "put your brain in a more calm state."
Not sure how to start your musical makeover? The authors' sample "out of the blahs" playlist includes Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Love the One You're With" and The Pretender's "Angel in the Morning." And their sample "go for it" playlist includes The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Glenn Frey's "The Heat Is On," and Christina Aguilera's "Soar."
(When I mentioned this idea to someone, she laughingly suggested that single people start an about-to-head-on-a-date playlist with the funny LMFAO hit "I'm Sexy and I Know It.")
Of course, what playlists you make and what you put on them are up to you. Me? I'm going to get started with my own positive-energy, memory-inducing songs: Free's "All Right Now" and Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" among them. What's going on your playlist?
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